Stray, Feel Like I’ve Been Here Before . . . Yeah, like last Monday evening, I was here before, playing tunes. OK, I stole the line from a Star Trek The Next Generation episode. Cause and Effect, where the Enterprise crew is caught in a time loop and keeps repeating the same scenario during which the ship is destroyed during a collision with another vessel, also caught in the loop. As the crew begins to experience deja vu, Lt. Worf, during the officers’ weekly poker game, says that he feels like he’s done this before to which First Officer Riker says, ‘yeah, last Tuesday night.” But all soon deduce that something is up. As for the song, it’s a riff rocker by Stray, a band I’ve played before and discovered some years ago now via a terrific compilation called I’m A Freak, Baby – A Journey Through The British Heavy Psych and Hard Rock Underground Scene, 1968-72. There’s since been a I’m A Freak, Baby 2 and, I discovered the other day, a No. 3 I’ll have to pick up. A great way to discover some great, obscure music.
Edgar Winter, Give It Everything You Got . . . Funky rocker from the White Trash album, 1971.
Blue Oyster Cult, Stairway To The Stars . . . From the debut, self-titled BOC album in 1972. It’s the first of three from the so-called Black and White period covering the first three records (Blue Oyster Cult, Tyranny and Mutation and Secret Treaties) even though there’s red in some of the album covers. Many fans consider the first three albums the zenith of BOC’s career, before the big hits like (Don’t Fear) The Reaper and Burnin’ For You when the band went more commercial. I like all of it but the first three records are spookier and more experimental, certainly for the time, and therefore were influential on the hard rock and metal scene.
Steve Hackett, Star Of Sirius . . . Guitarist Hackett was still in Genesis when he issued his first solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte, in 1975. It features bandmates Mike Rutherford on bass and drummer (and lead singer on this track) Phil Collins. As such, it could be a Genesis album and in some ways, lead singer Peter Gabriel having departed, set the stage for the next phase of Genesis’s career, as Hackett relates in the liner notes to a 2005 reissue of his album. “Phil Collins sang lead vocals on Star of Sirius, which in hindsight might be seen as perhaps paving the way for him taking over as singer in Genesis . . . The album was very well received and I think all of us in the band felt that if there was such an amount of interest in my solo career, then there would certainly be a large amount of interest in anything the four of us (including keyboard player Tony Banks) as Genesis could produce.” Hackett was right on two counts – his record gave the band the confidence to produce the excellent first post-Gabriel album, A Trick of the Tail, and also gave him confidence to fully strike out on his own, which he did after Wind and Wuthering, which followed A Trick of the Tail.
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Born To Move . . . Ridiculously great band, CCR, and so much more than their many hits, as this funky, jazzy jam tune from the Pendulum album confirms. Remarkably prolific, remarkably consistent, and obviously great, Pendulum being the band’s second studio album of 1970. The lazy bastards were slacking off after releasing three, 3! studio records in 1969.
Jack Bruce, How’s Tricks . . . Funky title tune from The Jack Bruce Band’s 1977 album, which was trashed by critics, many of whom, of course, are not progressing past the admittedly great Cream records on which Bruce played such a large part. Two critics’ quotes I pulled from the web about the album: “An uninspired set of 10 lacklustre tunes.” and “A journeyman effort hardly worth dredging up.” Whatever. Did you actually listen, more than once? Didn’t think so.
Dave Edmunds, As Lovers Do . . . As we enter the, by titles at least, “relationships gone bad’ phase of the set via this country-ish Edmunds’ tune. “We’re just falling out of love, as lovers do.” Some lovers. Some stay together, despite everything; some dissolve, despite what in retrospect may have been easily overcome issues.
Ry Cooder, Alimony . . . And then, sometimes, comes what Ry is ruminating on and the lawyers all go home richer.
Genesis, Robbery, Assault and Battery . . . You just knew I’d get back to Genesis after playing the Steve Hackett tune and mentioning the A Trick of the Tail album earlier, didn’t you? Regular show followers, if they know me at all, had it nailed right off but were just wondering whether I’d get to it immediately after Hackett (which is just what one might be expecting) or wait a bit. I waited. And the title could fit into the relationship theme.
The Kinks, To The Bone . . . As could this fine Kinks’ tune, as in taken financially to the bone. It’s the title cut to a terrific, somewhat unplugged, live album that became the band’s final release, in 1994. The album features myriad Kinks’ hits pulled from their 1993-94 US and UK tours, plus some played to a small audience at the band’s Konk Studios. To The Bone was a new studio track recorded at that time by the band and, to me, says they had much of value left in the tank. The Kinks are one of my favorite bands, often criminally overlooked against the widespread appeal of their original British Invasion mates like The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Who. I’ve continued to follow the careers of the Davies brothers, Ray and Dave, via their solo work but I’d submit that, as with the similarly often at odds Gallagher brothers of Oasis fame, the solo work doesn’t hold up against what they produced together. That said, I’d prefer both bands leave things as they were because reunion studio work, as so often happens, would likely leave fans disappointed given the passage of time, musical directions and, perhaps, lost chemistry.
Ten Years After, 50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain . . . Another of my favorite bands, TYA, I have not revisited in a while. Long overdue.
Lou Reed, Busload Of Faith . . . Transformer is arguably, probably obviously, Lou Reed’s masterpiece as a solo album but I’d put 1989’s New York album up there with it. It’s brilliant, musically and, as usual with Reed, lyrically as evidenced by this rocker. I remember buying New York upon release, sight unseen and unheard, based on a review I read in a magazine or newspaper, and have been forever rewarded.
Queen, The Prophet’s Song . . . Not a fan of the monarchy – a ridiculous anachronism in my view – although I don’t begrudge those who are fond of it. But, I suppose, contrary to my nature, I should at least acknowledge Queen Elizabeth’s passing in some measure, so I will by playing this epic by Queen, from A Night At The Opera. I did think of playing the Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen but I played the Pistols just a few weeks ago so, no. Another obvious option would have been The Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead but I’m not into The Smiths. I’ve tried them, and Morrissey and I know they’re loved by many but, sorry, I don’t get it.
The Rolling Stones, I Am Waiting . . . I’ve been on an early Stones’ kick of late. Here’s another cut, from 1966’s Aftermath album, that could be a completely different band (and I suppose was) from the ‘classic’ band they became via the so-called Big Four albums – Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St. They’ve been around 60 years so it’s natural but still amazing, the variety and depth of the Stones’ music.
Eagles, Long Road Out Of Eden . . . The band was just in Toronto this past weekend, prompting me to play this title cut (which they didn’t play) from their likely final studio work, from 2007. It’s the only studio album since The Long Run in 1979 and the band’s original breakup, and it’s essentially the Don Henley band now, he being the lone original member left, but so be it. I find that, with longstanding rock bands, after a period of time members who were not original members (in the Eagles’ case, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit) eventually have been around long enough that they’re almost ‘original’, as with, say, guitarist Rickey Medlocke and singer Johnny Van Zant in Lynyrd Skynyrd. Skynyrd gets criticized (unlike, unless I’ve missed it, Eagles) for being a glorified cover band and I can appreciate that, yet since 1991 has continued to release new studio work up to 2014. In any event, as far as the Eagles go, this extended piece is a great song, lyrically and musically.
Steve Miller Band, Journey From Eden . . . From Miller’s pre-commercial hits period. I like his hits but his stuff before that, tracks like this progressive, ethereal work, is worth investigating.
The Firm, Fortune Hunter . . . Sounds like Led Zeppelin. But why wouldn’t it, given Jimmy Page was in The Firm, along with singer Paul Rodgers of Free and Bad Company fame.
Led Zeppelin, The Wanton Song . . . Speaking of Zep . . . I was reminded of this track, from Physical Graffiti, via a rock ‘album reviews’ show I was recently watching on YouTube.
Ian Hunter, Old Records Never Die . . . The So Old It’s New theme song, arguably. Great stuff from a great artist, still rocking, as of this writing, at age 83, with studio work as recently as 2016.
Moxy, Time To Move On . . . Featuring Tommy Bolin of Deep Purple, James Gang and solo fame on guitar solos in his only appearance with the Canadian hard rockers, on their Moxy 1 debut in 1975. I pulled this from my terrific Bolin box set Ultimate: The Best Of Tommy Bolin, released in 1989.
Chicago, Liberation . . . I can hear my (RIP) older brother saying, ‘this is acid rock’. He usually was referring to Jimi Hendrix but Hendrix admired Chicago guitarist Terry Kath so it fits, this terrific, lengthy, almost completely instrumental track from the debut Chicago album, when they were known as Chicago Transity Authority. Released in 1969, the song, and album, showcases all that early CTA/Chicago was – guitar, jazz, horns. Sublime.